In This Section

A Comprehensive Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Biospecimen and Recruitment Core

Habib Ahsan, MBBS
Karen Kaul, MD, PhD
Jeffrey Mueller, MD  

The goal of the Biospecimen and Recruitment Core (BRC) is to work with each SPORE research project, the Developmental Research Program (DRP), the Career Development Program (CDP) and the Genomics, Analytic and Informatics Core (GAIC) to ensure efficient and highly coordinated procurement, use, storage, and analysis of human biospecimens. The establishment and maintenance of this “state-of-the art” biospecimen procurement and storage facility is vital to the success of our breast cancer translational research effort. This Core uses the shared research facilities of the Biological Sciences Division (BSD).

These state-of-the-art technologies are managed through a single centralized administrative unit that ensures strong divisional support. Currently, the Human Tissue Research Center (HTRC) provides clinically annotated normal and neoplastic human tissues for cancer research, and the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC) has created the developing Epidemiology and Research Recruitment Core (ERRC), which provides expertise in study design and questionnaire development, high-quality data and biospecimen collection, coordinated subject ascertainment, informed consent and recruitment both for hospital and population settings. We have also invested in state-of-the art cancer informatics tools to manage granular data collected on each specimen recruited to the SPORE including family history, treatment, imaging, epidemiology, and patient outcomes.

These Cores are resources of expertise, collaborative support, and service for pathology, immuno-histochemistry, fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH), chromogenic in-situ hybridization (CISH), laser capture microdissection, tissue microarray preparation, specimen management and patient accrual and follow-up. The BRC of this SPORE is integrated with the HTRC, ERRC, and the Cancer Risk Clinic to provide a coordinated, centralized, dedicated program for procuring, processing, and assessing biospecimens for breast cancer translational research.

For the next funding period, in addition to comprehensive UChicago coverage, we will integrate the Biospecimen bank at NorthShore to create a virtual bi-institutional BRC whose activities are closely coordinated with the GAIC for data management, sharing, and analysis. A unique aspect of this SPORE BRC is access to ethnically diverse populations, from across the city of Chicago (both South Side and North Side), as well as the African Diaspora in Africa and Caribbean, that can fuel the translation of genomic data to the clinic and for the benefit of the population at large.

The specific aims of the BRC are:

Aim 1. To maintain focused and informed consent of all patients seen for breast screening or disease (cancer and non-cancer) at the UChicago Medical Center and NorthShore by employing a universal consent form that allows patients to select various levels of participation for use of biospecimens, medical records (past and present and from any medical institution), prior and future imaging studies, and enrollment in questionnaires. These have been translated to French, Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa and for low literacy. In the next funding cycle, we will be translating the consent form to meet the needs of the developmentally or otherwise disabled.

Aim 2. To collect, access, process, and store fresh/snap frozen and formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissues, and whole blood/serum/plasma/saliva from patients undergoing evaluation or care at both institutions.

Aim 3. To link specimens collected with patient questionnaires and other pre-analytic and analytic variables that confer risk for breast cancer in our web-based integrated CancerIQ dataMart (CIQ), which includes detailed information regarding the nature and quantity of biospecimens collected as well as family history information, chemotherapy and patient surveys .

Aim 4. To offer centralized research pathology services including IHC and FISH analysis of biomarkers, TMA fabrication, LCM, quantitative image analysis, and the isolation of derivative products.

Aim 5. To provide comprehensive diagnostic pathologic characterization of tissue samples to SPORE investigators, inter-SPORE collaborators, and other appropriately funded internal and external investigators for novel and robust biomarker development and accurate testing of translational hypotheses.

Aim 6. To maintain a virtual Biospecimen repository between the UChicago, NorthShore and collaborators at other institutions.

Aim 7. To develop an efficient and sustainable mechanism to distribute well-annotated biospecimens accompanied by granular data including chemotherapy, pathology, imaging and co-morbidities as needed.

Download the Prioritization Plan for Biospecimen Use (Word)
Download the Summary of All Biospecimens Banked (Word)
Download the DNA Request Form (Excel)


Breast SPORE-Related Publications